Monday, April 28, 2014

Breathe Easy: Mold and Asbestos


How much do you know about the building you work in?  Have class in? Or even live in?  Many buildings are older or not taken care of very well and can pose serious health risks for those that spend time in them.   Older buildings are sometimes known to have asbestos in them and any building can have mold growing in it.

What is asbestos?  Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral and was commonly used as a building material from the 1940’s to 1980’s.  Asbestos was chosen because of its very good insulating properties, fire resistance and durability.  In the 1980’s however it was found out that asbestos poses serious health risks.  Asbestos has very small microfibers that it gives off and breathing them in can be very detrimental to one’s health.  These fibers have been proven to cause a buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs of those who breathe it.  This scar-like tissue is called asbestosis and it can result in loss of lung function that often progresses to a disability and death.  This isn't the only problem asbestos poses.  Asbestos has been known to cause lung cancer and other diseases such as mesothelioma.  

Asbestos isn't the only thing that can be in your walls that can harm you.  Mold has been known to also cause serious health risks.  Mold can start growing in a building because of the tiny spores that the mold releases into the air.  These spores can travel anywhere the air does including indoors.  If the spores land on an area where they can grow they will.  Common areas are basements and walls, but it can grow anywhere.  The spores that the mold gives off are the root cause of the health risks that the mold has associated with it.  Once the spores are inhaled they can cause issues such as lung irritants, coughing, asthma attacks, and even permanent lung damage.  The mold spores are also known to cause other issues like itchy eyes, sneezing, and allergic reactions. 

Both mold and asbestos can be in the building you are reading this in right now.  It’s a little scary to think about, but being informed on what can be done will help.  Asbestos can be present in older buildings and you can contact the owner of the building or get an asbestos test.  Mold can be seen by the naked eye it is commonly in walls of damp areas.  For mold you can also contact the building owner and see if mold is growing in your buildings.  In really damp areas you can commonly smell the musty odor of mold.  

Getting rid of asbestos and mold is not an easy task.  In most cases it is necessary to hire a professional for the removal of both asbestos and mold. Contractors are recommended because they are trained to remove the hazardous materials without releasing more fibers or spores into the air.  

Asbestos and mold are both very dangerous. Take precautions and get them removed so you can breathe safely and stay healthy.    

Thank you for your time and attention! Let's make it safe this Monday!

Dale Bromenshenkel
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, April 21, 2014

Beat the Heat


With summer just around the corner, the weather is finally warming up and it’s important that we prepare for the heat that is coming. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are all heat related emergencies that most people are uneducated about. During a heat wave, it’s important to know and understand the symptoms of heat related illnesses and what you should do should you see these symptoms in yourself or someone around you. 

The least threatening heat condition is called heat cramps. According to the Red Cross, heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen caused by exposure to high heat and humidity and loss of fluids and electrolytes. This is often an early sign that your body is struggling with the heat.  You should take immediate action to replenish your fluids and find a cooler place such as a shaded area until your body can fully recover. 

A more severe condition is known as heat exhaustion, this often occurs during strenuous activities and/or physical labor in high heat and humidity.  According to OSHA, signs of heat exhaustion are dizziness, headache, sweaty skin, fast heartbeat, nausea, general weakness, and cramps. If you see or feel any of these symptoms, immediately move the person with symptoms, whether it is yourself or someone else, to a cooler place, remove any tight clothing and apply wet towels to the skin. Make sure the person drinks small amounts of cool water and closely monitor their condition. If their condition worsens, contact medical personal immediately. 

The most severe heat related illness is heat stroke, also known as sunstroke. According to Red Cross, this is a life-threatening condition in which a person’s temperature control system stops working and the body is unable to cool itself. Signs of heat stroke include hot, red skin, changes in consciousness, vomiting, and high body temperature. Quickly move the person to a cooler place, using rapid cooling methods by applying ice wrapped in cloth to their body. Also, immediately call 9-1-1, as heat stroke is a life threatening condition. 

The dangers of overheating are often overlooked. During a heat wave you should do your best to stay is cool, shaded areas. However, if you have to work outdoors make sure to drink plenty of fluids, wear light loose fitting clothing, and take frequent breaks from the heat. 

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday.

Christopher Feigal
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Are You a Cell Phone Addict?


It’s a fairly obvious fact that Americans in today’s world love their cell phones. In fact, recent statistics from the website show that over 91% of all adults have a cell phone, and of this 91%, 55% own smart phones in particular. It is definitely not uncommon in today’s world for people to consider themselves addicted to their mobile devices. Though these complex devices have managed to benefit our world in many ways, what many people don’t consider is the health risk of over-using their phones. 

There are a broad range of side-effects to over-using your cell phone. According to the website, some of these proven side-effects include sore hands and fore-arms from texting, sore and dry eyes, headaches, sore neck, and dizziness to name a few common ones. There are even side-effects such as “Nomophobia” which is the fear of having to go without your cell phone and “Phantom cell phone vibration syndrome” which is when you believe you feel a vibration from your phone when it really hasn't vibrated. 

So how does one avoid these symptoms? The website advises these three techniques to help control your usage:
  • Be conscious of the situations and emotions that make you want to check your phone. Is it boredom? Loneliness? Anxiety? Maybe something else would soothe you.
  • Be strong when your phone beeps or rings. You don't always have to answer it. In fact, you can avoid temptation by turning off the alert signals.
  • Be disciplined about not using your device in certain situations (such as when you're with children, driving, or in a meeting) or at certain hours ( for instance, between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.). "You'll be surprised and pleased to rediscover the pleasures of being in control of your attention," Carr says.

Thank you for your time and attention! Let’s make it safe this Monday!

Phil Kwitek
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, April 7, 2014

Staying Healthy at a Desk Job


Many Americans have jobs where they sit at a desk all day and there is nothing wrong with this, but these people are susceptible to certain health risks.  These jobs can facilitate in a sedentary life style and ergonomic health issues. 

If employees work in an environment that is mostly desk-bound it is important that the office is ergonomically designed with the employees in mind.  Without proper design workers could experience back issues after sitting improperly in chairs or have chairs that can hurt their backs over time.  When sitting in chairs for a prolonged period it is important to sit up straight, have your feet flat on the floor and hands out in a comfortable position.  It is also important for employers to provide chairs that appropriate for the job.  The chairs should be adjustable so they can be fit to the correct height for each employee.  The chairs should have lower back support to prevent lower back strain.  It is also important for desks to be ergonomically designed.  Not only should the chairs be adjustable, but the desks too.  Desks should be set at the correct height for each individual worker.  They also make desks that can be adjusted instantly and can even be raised high enough for a person to stand and work.  Switching between standing and sitting can help prevent skeletal and muscle issues.  

Workers that sit at a desk have a higher chance at living an inactive lifestyle.  This lifestyle can lead to anxiety, cardiovascular disease, deep vein thrombosis, depression, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, and kidney stones. People should have 150 minutes of exercise every week. Although it can be difficult to find time it is important to stay find ways to stay active throughout the day. Every so often workers should stand up, stretch, and walk around a bit.  People are supposed to walk about an average of 10,000 steps a day.  For me personally 10,000 steps is equivalent to 4.5 miles.  Taking this many steps will keep you active throughout the day.  Most people have smart phones now and there are plenty of free apps that will track your step count.  My personal favorite is Pedometer++.  I encourage you to download one and see how many steps you take a day.   

There are some other issues facing workers that work in office settings.  One is eye strain.  Focusing on a computer can be very strenuous of the eyes, so it is important to take a break from the computer every once in a while.  If your job requires you to be on the phone a lot you should have a Bluetooth headset rather than using a phone.  When using a phone you have to either hold it up with one hand or kink your neck to hold it.  Kinking your neck several times a day could become strenuous on your neck.  The height of computer screens could also be an issue that could cause strain on your neck.  If the screens are placed too high or too low you may find yourself kinking your neck up or down.  The top of the computer screen should be eye level when the worker is sitting straight up.

Millions of people work at a desk every day and it is important to keep health and safety in mind.  Maintain good posture when working and take a break every once in a while to stretch your legs and give your eyes a break.

Thank you for your time and attention! Let's make it safe this Monday!

Dale Bromenshenkel
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company